adjective prof·li·gate \ ˈprä-fli-gət , -ˌgāt \
|Updated on: 5 Jul 2018

Definition of profligate

1 : wildly extravagant
  • profligate spending
2 : completely given up to dissipation and licentiousness : shamelessly immoral
  • leading a profligate life



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Examples of profligate in a Sentence

  1. In a curious way, part of the genius of America has been a collective forgetfulness, a talent for somehow outdistancing problems in a headlong race toward something new. It is a form of heedlessness, perhaps, blithe and profligate, but also an exuberant forward spin that may spare people the exhausting obligations of revenge. —Lance MorrowTime4 Apr. 1988
  2. Sure, the trade deficit symbolizes a profligate America, consuming more than it produces and spending more than it has. —Philip RevzinWall Street Journal17 Mar. 17, 1988
  3. Everyone seemed fond of statistics, but the counterterrorism experts were especially profligate with numbers. —Kurt AndersenTime24 June 1985
  4. She was very profligate in her spending.

  5. profligate movie producers hoping to create the next blockbuster

Recent Examples of profligate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'profligate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Don't Get Overwhelmed By the History of profligate

When a royal record keeper reported the "profligation of the knights" almost five centuries ago, he didn't mean the knights were wildly indulging in excesses; he meant they were thoroughly defeated in battle. There's nothing etymologically extreme there; the Latin verb profligare, which is the root of both profligate and the much rarer profligation (meaning "ruin"), means "to strike down," "to destroy," or "to overwhelm." When the adjective profligate first appeared in print in English it meant "overthrown" or "overwhelmed," (a sense that is now obsolete) but over time the word's meaning shifted to "immoral" or "wildly extravagant."

Origin and Etymology of profligate

Latin profligatus, from past participle of profligare to strike down, from pro- forward, down + -fligare (akin to fligere to strike); akin to Greek phlibein to squeeze



noun prof·li·gate \ ˈprä-fli-gət , -ˌgāt \

Definition of profligate

: a person given to wildly extravagant and usually grossly self-indulgent expenditure

Examples of profligate in a Sentence

  1. "Why did you ask that scoundrel, Rawdon Crawley, to dine?" said the Rector to his lady, as they were walking home through the park. "I don't want the fellow. He looks down upon us country people as so many blackamoors.  … Besides, he's such an infernal character—he's a gambler—he's a drunkard—he's a profligate in every way." —William Makepeace ThackerayVanity Fair1848
  2. a profligate who could not really afford the grand style he maintained at Monticello, Jefferson died deeply in debt

  3. a drunken profligate, he was given to wretched excess in every aspect of his life

Origin and Etymology of profligate

profligate Synonyms

PROFLIGATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of profligate for English Language Learners

  • : carelessly and foolishly wasting money, materials, etc. : very wasteful

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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